(Almost) Complete Disarray

My book organization has always been, even at the best of times, a bit on the…haphazard side. Living alone as I have for 12 years, things are where I put them and I understand why they are there, and I don’t need to explain to anyone why things are where they are.

For example, before this great Women’s Library project, certain of my mass market publication books – the Vonneguts, the Hesses, The Bell Jar, The Color Purple, The Bluest Eye, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, and three volumes from Maya Angelou’s autobiographies (I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas, and The Heart of a Woman) all always “lived” together on the same (top) shelf of my fiction bookshelf.

Why? Because they were the first books I ever owned, and they were all approximately the same size, and they had always lived on the same shelf together all through college and on my home bookshelf before I moved out of my parents’ house. So, they continued to cohabitate until I started this project. I made me a bit sad to break up the gang, TBH. It made no reasonable sense to have them all together, though.

After that first top shelf of mass markets, I’d put all the other general 20th century fiction in chronological order. Again, not really very normal. Then I had a separate shelf in the other room of 19th century fiction, and that one was in alphabetical order. Nonfiction were organized by topic (religion, women’s studies, general social science, theatre/movies, and travel). Then a shelf for plays.

Oh, and I never really knew what to do with memoir/creative nonfiction. Sometimes I shelved it with the general fiction, sometimes I kept it separate. I moved it around. And I always had a separate shelf for poetry, which really is my first and true love when it comes to books!

ALL OF THIS WENT OUT THE WINDOW WITH THIS PROJECT. I’m having a blast collecting books, but all order and organization for my non-womens-literature books has disappeared, and I’m going to have to restore order soon before I completely lose it!

To wit: here’s a good example of the complete disarray all my non-women’s-library-project shelves are experiencing:


What is even going on here, Lorraine?! Well you may ask. This shelf used to hold 21st century fiction. Now it has that…plus some 20th century fiction written by stinky ole men (KIDDING…I’m sure these revered male writers love jokes) that got relocated in the project, plus my social science/women’s studies nonfiction that also got relocated. WHAT TO DO?!

Here’s another shelf. Here we see more men’s fiction peeking out from the sliding cabinet door. Hemingway appears to be physically attempting escape from the exile of the back room. It’s okay, Papa Hemingway! A little time in the back room behind a cabinet door won’t hurt you.


I could show you pictures of my nonfiction shelves, but it’s just more of the same, and I don’t know that I can handle much more. There’s only one shelf that isn’t a complete betrayal of order and reason, and that is my beloved poetry shelf. Everything is as is should be – only poetry appears on it, and everything is in alphabetical order. The anthologies appear on the bottom shelf. All my Best American Poetry series volumes appear in chronological order. It is this shelf that keeps me from despair. Thank you, poetry shelf!

poetry shelf

In the meantime, the Women’s Library shelves themselves remain in the order I’ve put them in and are respectable enough…for now. But I’m quickly running out of room in the two shelves that have been designated for them, because somehow almost every weekend, a pile of new books appears, needing to be shelved:


Eventually, you will drive by my apartment and just see giant piles of books with a hand peeking out above them for help. Which means I better get to shelving, stat!

2 thoughts on “(Almost) Complete Disarray

  1. Michael

    Shelving really is difficult, and a task that’s hard to find the motivation to do. I always find myself second guessing how I’m arranging things, and there never seems to be enough space. In spite of having to deal with a few new shelfless piles, it looks like you’ve picked up some great books recently! Melymbrosia’s so interesting to compare to The Voyage Out.

    Liked by 1 person

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